4.84 HISTORY OF PERSIA CHAP. moderate charge of 5 per cent was reduced in the case of the former to i^ per cent, and in the case of the latter to z| per cent. On the other hand the duty on one of the :hief British imports, tea, was raised from 5 per cent to 100 per cent. This preposterous charge has, however, defeated its own object, by encouraging smuggling in so valuable and portable an article. It is now a decade since the tariff was introduced ; and those who prophesied the disappearance of British trade must have been agreeably surprised to find that they were entirely wrong. In a report made by a specially qualified trade Commissioner in I9O4,1 the trade of Persia with the British Empire is calculated at exports half a million, and imports two millions, which is also the average of the two previous years. In 1911 the imports had risen to over four millions, while the exports also show distinct improvement. The Action of the British Government.—The position of the British Government at this juncture was difficult. For nearly a century no special precautions had been taken by treaty to protect British commercial interests, and we had been content to claim the same terms as had been accorded to Russia by the treaty of Turkomanchai. We had not realized, as Chirol puts it,cc that its maintenance depended not uponPersia and ourselves,but upon Persia and Russia." The situation was one of extreme urgency. We were faced with a new tariff which was due to come into force in February 1903. Two courses were open. One was to protest and to wait for an opportunity at which pressure might be brought on Persia to negotiate a special treaty. The objection to this course was that Russia might, in the light of the experience gained in the working of the new tariff, find means of still further differentiating against British trade. The second course was to negotiate a separate treaty which would recognize the accomplished fact and prevent worse from befalling us. The latter alternative was believed to be the least disadvantageous, and by a convention signed in February 1903, the best was made of a bad job. * Blue Book (Cd.